Toronto man evicted from hotel ahead of refugee arrivals has ‘no place to go’
Long-term tenants Garnet Fulton and his family are being evicted as a North York hotel welcomes Syrian refugees whose rooms were booked last month.
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I t’s not like Garnet Fulton had everything figured out before the hotel manager gave him the eviction notice. He recently survived a heart attack, can only work the odd shift as a security guard and is making ends meet on government assistance.
But now he has a lot more to worry about.
“We have no place to go,” he said over the phone from his third-floor room at the Toronto Plaza Hotel, which sits in a broad parking lot off Wilson Ave., near the intersection of Highways 400 and 401. Fulton has been living there with his girlfriend and their 2-year-old son, Baron, since last October, when they were kicked out of their Mississauga apartment after the building was deemed to have too many tenants, he said.
Last weekend, he was told by hotel management that he’d have to pack up and leave again — the same week the federal government is putting up hundreds of newly landed Syrian refugees in the Plaza. Fulton isn’t the only long-term hotel tenant being evicted; there are several others, he said.
Fulton said he was initially told he and his family had to leave by Friday, but he’s pushing Plaza staff to let him stay until Monday at least. Fulton pays $1,200 a month for his hotel room. His biggest worry now is having “no food, no shelter, no nothing,” he said.
“What it does to me is, they didn’t give us notice,” said Fulton, 53. “Just basically, ‘Get out.’ ”
Staff at the hotel declined to comment when reached by Torstar News Service. A worker at the front desk said the manager had left and wouldn’t answer questions until Thursday.
COSTI Immigration Services was contracted by the government to sort out temporary accommodations for newly arrived refugees in the GTA. Mary Celluci, COSTI spokesperson, said the group booked 150 rooms in the hotel back in December. She said they “didn’t expect” that anyone would be inconvenienced by the refugees’ arrival.
Fulton said he believes he’s being evicted to make room for arriving refugees. He said he welcomes the arrival of people fleeing violence and poverty in other parts of the world, but that he feels the plight of some Canadians shouldn’t be overlooked in the process.
“It hurts,” he said. “Why did this Trudeau guy do this when there’s homeless out there they could’ve helped, there’s needy people he could’ve helped, but he brought people over and — why don’t they start from the ground up?”
Though he’s not sure yet what he’ll do or where he’ll go, Fulton said he’s willing to work as much as he can to find a place to stay with his family.
“I’ll sweep floors, I’ll do anything,” he said. “I push myself, OK? I had a heart attack. Two weeks later I was riding a bike. I’m a fighter.”